A Greeting by our Patron
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is my great pleasure to address you today, on the occasion of the opening ceremony of the Riemann Center for Geometry and Physics at Leibniz Universität Hannover, for which I am pleased to accept the patronage.
I would like to assure my sincere support for its development.
As one of the most influential mathematicians not only of the 19th century, Bernhard Riemann is a hero to mathematicians and theoretical physicists alike, thanks to his breathtaking contributions to analysis, number theory and differential geometry. He paved the way for the development of General Relativity and the concept of space-time and higher dimensions.
Riemann was born not far from here, in the former Kingdom of Hannover, close to Dannenberg, which is now part of the State of Lower Saxony. He spent most of his life in the Kingdom of Hannover, and in fact even attended school in the city of Hannover for two years.
As a professor of mathematics, I can appreciate from my own personal experience the importance of an interdisciplinary exchange between mathematics and physics. Indeed, for a long time in history, major advances in both sciences were often driven by the same person.
Mathematics is the language of Nature, and physical questions provide guidance to mathematical research. The last few decades have seen a confluence of ideas from each subject that have enriched and influenced each other. The results that have emerged from this confluence have fundamentally changed both subjects and have furthermore indicated deeper connections whose impact on both subjects will be even more profound.
This development can be seen in many research centers worldwide, for example at the Simons Center for Geometry and Physics at Stony Brook in New York or the Pauli Center at the ETH Zürich, and also in Germany with the Arnold Sommerfeld Center in Munich, the Hausdorff and Bethe Centers in Bonn or one of the Courant Centers in nearby Göttingen.
So it is timely and appropriate that Leibniz Universität Hannover should put itself on this map by starting the Riemann Center for Geometry and Physics. The new center can be truly proud of Riemann's heritage, but the name also brings with it a very high benchmark for performance.
As I have learned, the founding of the Riemann Center is but one further step in a strategic development at Leibniz Universität. This began more than 20 years ago in the then separate departments of mathematics and physics, with the concentration on a few strong and topical research areas and the hiring of new colleagues with the intent to build bridges between them.
The reorganisation of the two departments into one faculty accelerated the process, leading to the establishment of a special graduate study programme `Analysis, Geometry and String Theory', which in turn provided the nucleus for today's center. Another breeding ground for the center is your much-acclaimed Cluster of Excellence, QUEST, which has set new standards to aspire to at Leibniz Universität.
I understand that the aim of the center is to bring mathematicians, particularly geometers, and theoretical physicists together to exchange ideas and learn from each other. They will work on problems of common interest, with the long-term goal of better understanding the deeper connections between their subjects, connections that, once understood, will transform each subject.
The center plans to invite both eminent visiting scientists and young researchers to a common platform. As Minister of Science and Culture, I particularly welcome the concept of holding lectures for the general public and providing activities for our schools.
As a patron of the center, I look forward to visiting you in the future and learning about your progress. I am confident that you will keep your momentum going for a successful start into a new level of cooperation between mathematics and physics, and wish you many exciting insights for the future.